Monday, April 20, 2015

Reel Facts & Opinions: A Tale of Two Trailers

Last week, trailers for two extremely high-profile films were released to the world, each with different approaches and very different results…

The Earth was tilted on Thursday, when Disney unveiled their second trailer for the upcoming STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS. This trailer was played at a live event; the biannual Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA…with a live audience, director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and the main cast in attendance. The event, and the trailer debut, was also broadcast live across the internet for rabid fans to see. Within minutes of that live broadcast, the trailer was officially released onto YouTube and other social media outlets for endless viewing. 

The response for the trailer was overwhelmingly positive; it was high-energy, gave a peek into what the seventh STAR WARS film would be about, and gave the fans a long-awaited return of two of the most beloved characters in the franchise’s long history. The word “tears” was often used to describe the wave of emotion the trailer sparked. 

On the other side of planet was the comedy of errors made by Warner Bros./DC Comics with their  upcoming superhero showdown, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The first misstep happened on Wednesday, when director Zack Snyder tweeted out a five-second preview of the trailer (yes, a teaser for a trailer, which seems to anger everyone automatically). That tweet also included a link which you were encouraged to click on to see if the full trailer would be playing at an IMAX theatre near you on MONDAY…which of course you were then encouraged to pay for a ticket to go see.

The second mistake came when the decision was made to show the trailer at a public event the very next day in front of a small crowd, at which the inevitable happened; some bloody pirate filmed the presentation (presumably) with a cell-phone, and uploaded the bootlegged footage to the internet. Within an hour, the footage was dispersed all over creation…and WB/DC was left scrambling in a vain effort to pull the bootlegged trailer off thousands of websites; essentially trying to fix the barn door after the horse had bolted away. They eventually surrendered and released the trailer properly on the internet. 

On top of all that, the long-awaited first look at BATMAN V. SUPERMAN (BvS for short) was not met with a lot of enthusiasm. It was a very divisive trailer which broke DC Comics’ fanbase and the general public into camps of war; some loving it, some hating it, some greeting it with a yawn and a shrug. The contrast between the events of the two days was stunning; where STAR WARS united everyone in song, BvS sent everyone back into bitter bickering.  

To be clear, the purpose of this blog isn’t to fan the flames of battle by over-analyzing the trailers and turn the discussion into STAR WARS v. BvS, but to instead look at why one trailer sent people soaring and the other sent them shaking their heads. Disney’s approach was very straightforward in the release; no overthinking, no pretense…just throw a party and invite your friends. And the icing on the cake was the trailer gave fans everything that they wished for. Clearly the best of times. WB/DC on the other hand became a victim of their own overthinking; pissing people off with having to pay to see the trailer and ultimately having their big debut spoiled by having a public showing where the opportunity for piracy was given. And the polarizing nature of the trailer did not help them in the least. Clearly the worst of times. One year from now, after both movies have been released and the smoke has cleared, it will be of great interest to add some hindsight and to see how these two approaches will factor into the long-run; either an interesting footnote or a first step off the yellow brick road. 



BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE arrives March 25th, 2016

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